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Best Practice Guideline - A5: Water Management for Surface Mines -- July 2008
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, 2008. Best Practice Guideline A5: Water
Management for Surface Mines

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which is only based on actual information received, and makes no commitment to
update or correct information.

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ISBN

978-0-980 2679-7-6

Status

Final July 2008

Best Practice Guideline - A5: Water Management for Surface Mines -- July 2008
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

DOCUMENT
INDEX

This is the fifth in a series of the following Activity Best Practice Guidelines documents:
BPG A1: Small-Scale Mining (Standard & User Format)
BPG A2: Water Management for Mine Residue Deposits
BPG A3: Water Management in Hydrometallurgical Plants
BPG A4: Pollution Control Dams
BPG A5: Water Management for Surface Mines
BPG A6: Water Management for Underground Mines

ACKOWLEDGE
MENTS

Authors
Mr Frank Wimberley (Golder Associates)

Specialists
Mr Dave Salmon (Anglo Coal)
Mr John Wates (Fraser Alexander)
Ms Riana Munnik (DWAF)
Solomon Tsheko (DWAF)
Since 1999 a number of steering committee meetings and stakeholder workshops were held
at various stages of the development and drafting of this series of Best Practice Guidelines for
Water Resource Protection in the South African Mining Industry.
We are deeply indebted to the steering committee members, officials of the Department of
Water Affairs and Forestry and stakeholders who participated in the meetings and stakeholder
workshops held during the development of the series of Best Practice Guidelines for their
inputs, comments and kind assistance.
The Department would like to acknowledge the authors of this document, as well as the
specialists involved in the process of developing this Best Practice Guideline. Without their
knowledge and expertise this guideline could not have been complemeted.

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Best Practice Guideline - A5: Water Management for Surface Mines -- July 2008
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APPROVALS

This document is approved by the Department of Water Affairs and


Forestry

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Best Practice Guideline - A5: Water Management for Surface Mines -- July 2008
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PREFACE

Water is typically the prime environmental medium (besides air) that is affected by mining
activities. Mining adversely affects water quality and poses a significant risk to South Africas
water resources. Mining operations can further substantially alter the hydrological and
topographical characteristics of the mining areas and subsequently affect the surface runoff,
soil moisture, evapo-transpiration and groundwater behaviour. Failure to manage impacts on
water resources (surface and groundwater) in an acceptable manner throughout the life-ofmine and post-closure, on both a local and regional scale, will result in the mining industry
finding it increasingly difficult to obtain community and government support for existing and
future projects. Consequently, sound management practices to prevent or minimise water
pollution are fundamental for mining operations to be sustainable.
Pro-active management of environmental impacts is required from the outset of mining activities.
Internationally, principles of sustainable environmental management have developed rapidly in
the past few years. Locally the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF) and the
mining industry have made major strides together in developing principles and approaches for
the effective management of water within the industry. This has largely been achieved through
the establishment of joint structures where problems have been discussed and addressed
through co-operation.
The Bill of Rights in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 (Act 108 of 1996)
enshrines the concept of sustainability; specifying rights regarding the environment, water,
access to information and just administrative action. These rights and other requirements are
further legislated through the National Water Act (NWA), 1998 (Act 36 of 1998). The latter is
the primary statute providing the legal basis for water management in South Africa and has
to ensure ecological integrity, economic growth and social equity when managing and using
water. Use of water for mining and related activities is also regulated through regulations that
were updated after the promulgation of the NWA (Government Notice No. GN704 dated 4 June
1999).
The NWA introduced the concept of Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM),
comprising all aspects of the water resource, including water quality, water quantity and the
aquatic ecosystem quality (quality of the aquatic biota and in-stream and riparian habitat). The
IWRM approach provides for both resource directed and source directed measures. Resource
directed measures aim to protect and manage the receiving environment. Examples of resource
directed actions are the formulation of resource quality objectives and the development of
associated strategies to ensure ongoing attainment of these objectives; catchment management
strategies and the establishment of catchment management agencies (CMAs) to implement
these strategies.
On the other hand, source directed measures aim to control the impacts at source through
the identification and implementation of pollution prevention, water reuse and water treatment
mechanisms.
The integration of resource and source directed measures forms the basis of the hierarchy
of decision-taking aimed at protecting the resource from waste impacts. This hierarchy is
based on a precautionary approach and the following order of priority for mine water and waste
management decisions and/or actions is applicable:

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Best Practice Guideline - A5: Water Management for Surface Mines -- July 2008
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RESOURCE PROTECTION AND WASTE


MANAGEMENT HIERARCHY
Step 1: Pollution Prevention

Step 2: Minimisation of Impacts


Water reuse & reclamation
Water treatment

Step 3: Discharge or disposal of waste and/or


waste water
Site specific risk based approach
Polluter pays principle
The documentation describing Water Resource
Protection and Waste Management in South Africa
is being developed at a number of different levels, as
described and illustrated in the schematic diagram on
this page.

The overall Resource Protection and Waste


Management Policy sets out the interpretation of
policy and legal principles as well as functional and
organisational arrangements for resource protection and
waste management in South Africa.
Operational policies describe the rules applicable
to different categories and aspects relating to waste
discharge and disposal activities. Such activities from
the mining sector is categorised and classified based on
their potential risks to the water environment.
Operational Guidelines contain the requirements for
specific documents e.g. licence application reports.
Best Practice Guidelines (BPGs) define and document
best practices for water and waste management.

Schematic Diagram of the Mining Sector Resource Protection and Waste Management
Strategy

Best Practice Guideline - A5: Water Management for Surface Mines -- July 2008
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The DWAF has developed a series of Best Practice


Guidelines (BPGs) for mines in line with International
Principles and Approaches towards sustainability. The
series of BPGs have been grouped as outlined below:
BEST PRACTICE GUIDELINES dealing with aspects of
DWAFs water management HIERARCHY are prefaced
with the letter H. The topics that are covered in these
guidelines include:
H1. Integrated Mine Water Management
H2. Pollution Prevention and Minimisation on
Impacts
H3. Water Reuse and Reclamation
H4. Water Treatment
BEST PRACTICE GUIDELINES dealing with GENERAL
water management strategies, techniques and tools,
which could be applied cross-sectoral and always
prefaced by the letter G. The topics that are covered in
these guidelines include:
G1. Storm Water Management
G2. Water and Salt Balances
G3. Water Monitoring Systems
G4. Impact Prediction
G5: Water Management Aspects for Mine Closure
BEST PRACTICE GUIDELINES dealing with specific
mining ACTIVITIES or ASPECTS and always prefaced
by the letter A. These guidelines address the prevention
and management of impacts from:
A1. Small-Scale Mining
A2. Water Management for Mine Residue Deposits
A3. Water Management in Hydrometallurgical Plants
A4. Pollution Control Dams
A5. Water Management for Surface Mines
A6. Water Management for Underground Mines
The development of the guidelines is an inclusive
consultative process that incorporates the input from
a wide range of experts, including specialists within
and outside the mining industry and government. The
process of identifying which BPGs to prepare, who should
participate in the preparation and consultative processes,
and the approval of the BPGs was managed by a Project
Steering Committee (PSC) with representation by key
role-players.

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The BPGs will perform the following functions within the


hierarchy of decision making:
Utilisation by the mining sector as input for compiling
water use licence applications (and other legally
required documents such as EMPs, EIAs, closure
plans, etc.) and for drafting licence conditions.
Serve as a uniform basis for negotiations through the
licensing process prescribed by the NWA.
Used specifically by DWAF personnel as a basis for
negotiation with the mining industry, and likewise by
the mining industry as a guideline as to what the DWAF
considers as best practice in resource protection and
waste management.
Inform Interested and Affected Parties on good
practice at mines.
The information contained in the BPGs will be transferred
through a structured knowledge transfer process, which
includes the following steps:
Workshops in key mining regions open to all interested
parties, including representatives from the mining
industry, government and the public.
Provision of material to mining industry training
groups for inclusion into standard employee training
programmes.
Provision of material to tertiary education institutions
for inclusion into existing training programmes.
Provision of electronic BPGs on the DWAF Internet
web page.

Best Practice Guideline - A5: Water Management for Surface Mines -- July 2008
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Contents

DOCUMENT INDEX ......................................................................................... ii


APPROVALS

......................................................................................... iii

PREFACE

......................................................................................... iv

INTRODUCTION...................................................................................... 1

1.1

Background............................................................................................

1.2

Types of surface mining..........................................................................

1.3

Risk classification for surface mine........................................................

1.4 Context of BPG A5: Water Management for Surface Mining..................

1.5

GENERAL PRINCIPLES for WATER MANAGEMENT for


surface mining.................................................................................. 7

OBJECTIVES AND KEY CONSIDERATIONS........................................ 8

3.1

Objectives of water management for surface mines..............................

3.2

Objectives of this guideline.....................................................................

3.3 Key considerations.................................................................................

legal framework............................................................................ 10

4.1 Constitution of the Republic of South Africa........................................... 10

4.2 National Environmental Management Act, 1998 (Act No.107 of 1998).. 10

4.3

4.4 National Water Act, 1998 (Act No.36 of 1998)........................................ 11

4.5

Water use regulations............................................................................. 11

4.6

Dam safety regulations........................................................................... 11

4.7

DWAF water management policies and strategies................................. 11

water management context....................................................... 12

5.1

Overall water management context........................................................ 12

5.2

Integrated Mine Water Management...................................................... 13

5.3

Mine life cycle phase specific requirements........................................... 13

Focus and structure of the BPG.............................................................

The Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA)


(Act No. 28 of 2002)............................................................................... 10

5.3.1

Prospecting, conceptualisation and planning............................ 14

5.3.2

Pre-feasibility study................................................................... 14

5.3.3

Feasibility study........................................................................ 14

5.3.4

Mine design............................................................................... 15

5.3.5 Construction and commissioning.............................................. 16

5.3.6

Mine operation.......................................................................... 16

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Best Practice Guideline - A5: Water Management for Surface Mines -- July 2008
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5.3.7 Closure, post-closure and after-care............................................................................

16

5.4

Integrated Regulatory and Procedural guidance.......................................................................

19

water management modelling and measures for surface mines...

20

6.1

Introduction................................................................................................................................

20

6.2

Integrated water management modelling..................................................................................

20

6.3

Water management measures..................................................................................................

20

6.3.1

Separation of waters....................................................................................................

21

6.3.2 Collection.....................................................................................................................

25

6.3.3 Conveyance.................................................................................................................

28

6.3.4

Storage........................................................................................................................

30

6.3.5

Siting............................................................................................................................

33

6.3.6

Design and operational considerations........................................................................

40

6.3.7

Maintenance................................................................................................................

43

6.3.8 Closure.........................................................................................................................

48

6.3.9

Exemptions..................................................................................................................

51

Management cycle....................................................................................................................

51

6.4.1

Introduction..................................................................................................................

51

6.4.2 Requirements of Government Notice No. 704.............................................................

51

6.4.3

Practical implications...................................................................................................

52

6.4.4

Examples.....................................................................................................................

53

Practical examples on applying the water management measures..........................................

56

6.5.1

Haul roads and ramps..................................................................................................

56

6.5.2

Dragline walkways.......................................................................................................

58

6.5.3

Diversion berms...........................................................................................................

58

6.5.4 Rehabilitation...............................................................................................................

58

6.5.5

59

6.4

6.5

Workshops, hard parks, vehicle and machinery ways bays and fuel bays..................

References AND FURTHER READING.................................................................

60

glossary ..............................................................................................................

61

list of acronyms and abbreviations............................................................

63

Tables
Table 5-1: Information and Water Management Requirements through the Mine Phases.................................

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Best Practice Guideline - A5: Water Management for Surface Mines -- July 2008
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Figures
Figure 11: Typical open pit mine.......................................................................................................................

Figure 12: Typical coal strip mine (dragline operation)......................................................................................

Figure 13: Overall strip mining process.............................................................................................................

Figure 14: Typical section through a coal strip mine.........................................................................................

Figure 15: Typical sand winning operation........................................................................................................

Figure 16: Typical quarrying operation..............................................................................................................

Figure 17: Relationship between selected Best Practice Guidelines................................................................

Figure 51: Overall water management context.................................................................................................

13

Figure 52: Typical water make and water use for opencast mines...................................................................

16

Figure 53: Guide for Integrated Regulatory Process (IRP)..............................................................................

19

Figure 61: Integrated water management modelling for a surface mine..........................................................

20

Figure 62: Typical water flow paths in an open pit mine....................................................................................

21

Figure 63: Illustration of a clean water cutoff canal...........................................................................................

22

Figure 64: Examples of water separation trenches and canals.........................................................................

23

Figure 65: Examples of poor water separation practices..................................................................................

24

Figure 66: Example of poor water separation practices....................................................................................

24

Figure 67: Dewatering in old mine workings.....................................................................................................

26

Figure 68: Groundwater seepage cutoff trench.................................................................................................

26

Figure 69: Seepage collection at a waste management facility........................................................................

27

Figure 610: Examples of poor and good water collection practices..................................................................

28

Figure 611: Examples of lined conveyance structures......................................................................................

29

Figure 612: Examples of poor water conveyance practices..............................................................................

30

Figure 613: Examples of water storage facilities...............................................................................................

32

Figure 614: Example of a lined water storage facility........................................................................................

32

Figure 615: Examples of poor water storage practices.....................................................................................

33

Figure 616: Process for siting water management facilities..............................................................................

35

Figure 617: Typical water management measures for mining in a watercourse...............................................

37

Figure 618: Siting of a mine residue deposit.....................................................................................................

39

Figure 619: Example of a wetland.....................................................................................................................

40

Figure 620: Examples of silt traps.....................................................................................................................

42

Figure 621: An example of good practice for a maintenance area....................................................................

42

Figure 622: Examples of poor practice for silt traps and maintenance areas...................................................

43

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Best Practice Guideline - A5: Water Management for Surface Mines -- July 2008
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Figure 623: Examples of well maintained water management systems............................................................

46

Figure 624: Examples of poorly maintained water management systems........................................................

47

Figure 625: Examples of rehabilitated opencast pits.........................................................................................

50

Figure 626: Acid seepage from pit.....................................................................................................................

50

Figure 627: Monitoring in water storage facilities..............................................................................................

53

Figure 628: Monitoring flow in surface water channels.....................................................................................

54

Figure 629: Groundwater monitoring boreholes................................................................................................

55

Figure 630: Pipe flow monitoring.......................................................................................................................

55

Figure 631: Plan view of best practices utilising low wall ramps.......................................................................

56

Figure 632: Section through mine pit with low wall ramps................................................................................

57

Figure 633: Plan view of best practices utilising high wall ramps......................................................................

57

Figure 634: Section through mine pit with high wall ramps...............................................................................

58

Figure 635: Best practice for spoils placement to reduce rainfall ingress.........................................................

59

Figure 91: Water Management Areas in South Africa......................................................................................

64

APPENDICES

APPENDIX A: LEGAL FRAMEWORK..............................................................................................................

64

APPENDIX B: WATER MANAGEMENT Modelling FOR SURFACE MINES....................................................

78